Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Vince McMahon Infuriated by UFC Commercial
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon was furious when he saw the UFC commercial saying that pro wrestling is not "real" during his own TV shows, according to a report in the Wrestling Observer. The commercial, which is still running on Spike TV programs other than WWE Raw, features an announcer saying, "What's real? Pro wrestling? No! Boxing? Not anymore! The UFC is real!" I'd love for the UFC to explain specifically how boxing "is not real anymore," but as you might have guessed, that wasn't the part of the interview that sent Vince McMahon over the edge.
With WWE set to leave Spike TV at the end of September, and with Spike TV now relying on the UFC as its number one provider of original programming, the Observer reports that the relationship between WWE and Spike TV has "turned very cold."
The Observer adds, "Among the specifics was Vince McMahon apparently going nuts about the UFC commercial that implies pro wrestling is not real, that was being played so often on WWE programming. Spike TV made a new version of the commercial that only implies boxing isn't real anymore, and makes no mention of pro wrestling. This is hilarious because WWE has spent the last several years insisting that pro wrestling isn't real, and now they get all worked up when someone else says it. The UFC and Spike are still airing the commercial saying that pro wrestling isn't real on all shows other than WWE, but they cut a new version of the commercial just for WWE programming."
As the Observer report alluded to, the irony in Vince McMahon's rage about the UFC commercial is that when WWE was recently faced with perhaps its biggest media scandal ever due to its extremely tasteless terrorism storyline (which aired on the same day as the real-life London terrorist bombings), the company's defense consisted largely of, "Pro wrestling isn't real! It's just entertainment!" In general, whenever the media or a Wall Street analyst questions something that WWE does, the response is always that it's not real and it's just entertainment.
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Breaks Records in Key Ratings Demographics
The second episode of The Ultimate Fighter's second season, which debuted on Monday, August 29th, broke the series' all-time records in two of the most important ratings demographics. While the overall rating, which factors in all age and sex demographics, was only up slightly (from 1.7 last week to 1.8 this week), Spike TV was said to be thrilled with the far bigger increases in two key demographics.
In the advertiser-coveted demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males, this week's episode drew a 2.8 rating, which is a huge increase from the 1.8 rating that was drawn by Week 2 of the first season in the same demographic. The 2.8 rating in this demographic is also a big increase from TUF's first season average (2.2), and from last week's rating in this demographic (2.5).
In the age group that watches The Ultimate Fighter more than any other demographic, 25-to-34-year-old males, this week's episode drew an insanely high 3.7 rating. That is actually more than double the 1.8 rating that was drawn by Week 2 of the first season in the same demographic. The 3.7 rating in this demographic is also a huge increase from TUF's first season average (2.2), and even from last week's big rating in this demographic (2.9).
In the two aforementioned demographics, this week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter was the most-watched episode in the Monday night timeslot from either season. This week's 2.8 rating in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic tops the previous record, which was a 2.7 rating that was drawn by Week 10 of the first season. However, it still falls short of the 3.3 rating that was drawn in this demographic by the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter in the Saturday night timeslot on April 9th, 2005.
Even more astonishing is the fact that this week's 3.7 rating in the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic is the highest rating that any UFC programming has ever drawn, in any demographic, in any timeslot. The previous record for this demographic in the Monday night timeslot was the 2.8 rating that was drawn by Week 10 of The Ultimate Fighter's first season. This was topped only by the 3.2 rating that was drawn in this demographic by the Saturday night season finale of TUF on April 9th. Now, even that record has been shattered by this week's 3.7 rating among 25-to-34-year-old males.
Very few shows on all of cable television are able to attract such a large amount of the young male audience that advertising executives spend much of their careers targeting. These ratings have started to pay off not just for Spike TV, but also for the UFC in a big way. On last night's show alone, there was premium-level, integrated-into-the-show advertising from three different advertisers: Right Guard Extreme, Transporter 2, and the United States Army.
The UFC's shows on Spike TV are able to demand a far higher CPM rate from advertisers than WWE's TV shows, which have among the lowest CPM rates on all of television due to WWE's history of tasteless, crass, and sometimes even racist storylines.
In addition, the advertising inventory for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter was sold by big-time advertising firms just like any other sports programming, whereas the first season's ads were sold on the much less lucrative "scatter market." As part of its deal with Spike TV, the UFC gets approximately half of the advertising space on its programs. For example, in an hour-long show with 16 minutes of commercials, Spike TV would get approximately eight minutes of that ad space, while the UFC would get the other half.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 54 Pay Scale Breakdown
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The following is a complete listing of UFC 54's fighter salaries, followed by my analysis of the salaries.
-Randy Couture: $225,000 ($150,000 for fighting, $75,000 win bonus)
-Chuck Liddell: $160,000 ($80,000 for fighting; $80,000 win bonus)
-Tim Sylvia: $80,000 ($40,000 for fighting; $40,000 win bonus)
-Matt Lindland: $30,000 ($15,000 for fighting; $15,000 win bonus)
-Georges St. Pierre: $28,000 ($13,000 for fighting; $15,000 win bonus)
-Jeremy Horn: $25,000 ($25,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $25,000)
-Diego Sanchez: $24,000 ($12,000 for fighting; $12,000 win bonus)
-Mike Van Arsdale: $15,000 ($15,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $15,000)
-Frank Trigg: $14,000 ($14,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $14,000)
-Tra Telligman: $9,000 ($9,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $9,000)
-James Irvin: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting, $3,000 win bonus)
-Trevor Prangley: $6,000 ($3,000 for fighting, $3,000 win bonus)
-Joe Doerksen: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Travis Lutter: $4,000 ($4,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $4,000)
-Brian Gassaway: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
-Terry Martin: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
Total Fighter Payroll: $635,000
UFC Pay Ceiling Remains Unchanged
This event had the highest fighter payroll of any UFC event that Zuffa has ever held, with a total of $635,000 being paid out to the fighters. However, the pay ceiling for an individual top star in the UFC has not changed since the pre-Ultimate Fighter days, when there was no Spike TV programming rights revenue or cable TV advertising money that the UFC was making.
Randy Couture continues to be the highest-paid fighter, with a guaranteed amount per fight of $150,000 and a win bonus of $75,000. Despite the fact that he lost to Chuck Liddell at UFC 52, Couture still deserves to be the highest-paid fighter, at least for now, because he has more tenure than anyone when it comes to championship fights. As Mike Goldberg pointed out during the UFC 54 broadcast, this was the first time since 1997 that Couture was competing in a UFC fight that wasn't for the UFC Heavyweight Title or the UFC Light-Heavyweight Title.
However, Couture still made the same amount of money for UFC 54 that he has been making since UFC 49, and that was before the Spike TV deal and all of the additional revenue that it has brought the UFC. I'm not saying that it's feasible at this point to have a drastic increase in pay at the top, but at some point the top of the pay scale is going to have to be something other than the same exact amount that it was before the Spike TV came along.
Perhaps something like $175,000 to fight (instead of $150,000), and a win bonus of $100,000 (instead of $75,000) would be appropriate for the highest-paid fighter. Whatever the exact amount is, it needs to reflect the fact that the company is making a heck of a lot more money now than they were in 2004 before the Spike TV deal was signed.
Jeremy Horn Gets a Big Contract for His UFC Return
With a proposed Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton Jackson match falling apart when the UFC realized that Jackson was still contractually bound to Pride until the end of August, and with the UFC not wanting to book a Liddell-Couture rematch until Couture won a non-title fight, the UFC finally felt compelled to do something that hardcore fans have been demanding for years: They signed Jeremy Horn. Not only did Jeremy Horn finally get signed by the UFC, but due to the circumstances and due to the fact that Chuck Liddell had previously expressed a desire to fight him again, Horn's first fight back in the UFC was against Liddell for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Title.
Horn's fight against Liddell was not his UFC debut, but it almost felt that way since he had not fought in the UFC since early 2001. For a debuting or returning fighter, Horn got a very large contract, valued at $25,000 to fight and an additional $25,000 to win. That is far closer to the top of the UFC pay scale than it is to the bottom. Horn's contract was a three-fight deal that would automatically be terminated if he lost to Chuck Liddell, which he did. So, Jeremy Horn is once again a free agent at this point, and if he re-signs with the UFC it is likely to be for significantly less money than $25,000 to fight and $25,000 to win.
Liddell and Lindland Both Under-Paid Given their UFC Records
If any two fighters have a right to be upset about their pay, given their excellent records in the UFC, it would have to be Chuck Liddell and Matt Lindland. Unlike Tito Ortiz in the same situation, Chuck Liddell is honoring his long-term, multi-fight contract.
At the same time that Tito Ortiz was holding out in 2003 until he got a new deal (which ended up being worth $125,000 for every fight and an additional $50,000 for every win), Liddell was honoring his contract and stepping into the Octagon for $40,000 to fight and $40,000 to win. Liddell's contract pays him slightly more with each passing fight, so he subsequently made $50,000 and $50,000 for his next fight, then 60 and 60, all the way up to his UFC 54 salary of $80,000 to fight and $80,000 to win. Ironically, Liddell's UFC 54 salary is the same exact salary that Tito Ortiz had in 2003 when he held out just two fights into his six-fight UFC contract, at a time when Liddell was the #1 contender.
It's not known when Liddell's current contract comes up for renewal, but it's clear that he is due for a huge raise whenever it does expire. In the meantime, Liddell can be consoled by the fact that earlier this year he signed the biggest endorsement contract in the history of MMA in the United States. As previously reported by MMAWeekly, Liddell's multi-year deal with the nutritional supplement company Xyience is a seven-figure deal. The total amount of over $1 million is spread out over the life of the contract (not all paid to him at once, or even in one year), but it's still the biggest sponsorship deal that any MMA fighter has ever gotten in the United States.
While Chuck Liddell is underpaid as the #1-ranked light-heavyweight in the UFC, Matt Lindland is also underpaid as one of the top-ranked middleweights in the company. The announcers hyped on the broadcast that Liddell's win at UFC 54 made him the winningest fighter in UFC history with 12 wins... so why is Matt Lindland, a fighter who is not far behind with 10 wins, only making $15,000 to fight and $15,000 to win?
I'm not saying that Lindland should be making anywhere near what Liddell makes, but his salary should certainly be a lot more than $15,000 to fight and $15,000 to win. Comparing him specifically to Liddell on the pay scale and looking at each fighter's relative market value, Liddell has the most wins of any fighter in UFC history, while Lindland is close behind him. Liddell has the mainstream recognition from being a coach on The Ultimate Fighter, while Lindland has the potential to give the UFC a huge boost in mainstream media credibility due to the fact that he's an Olympic Silver Medalist. Liddell is not at all good at public speaking (see his appearance on Adam Corolla's new TV show for a good example), while Lindland has proved time and time again that he is (see his appearances leading up to his second fight with Phil Baroni for several good examples).
Ultimately, what's the biggest difference between them? Liddell's fights are usually exciting, while Lindland's fights are often not exciting. Some of Lindland's fights are exciting, like his two fights with Baroni or his fight with Travis Lutter, but the truth is that most of them aren't. This factor makes Lindland worth a lesser amount of money to the UFC than he otherwise would be, but should Lindland be getting a mid-level UFC salary when he's one of the winningest fighters in the history of the organization?
The answer to that question depends on whether you want to think of the UFC as something that should be promoted like a pro wrestling company, or something that should be promoted as a legitimate sport. In pro wrestling, the biggest stars and thus the biggest money-earners are often the wrestlers who are the most charismatic, not the ones who are the most skilled at their craft in the ring, which is to put on entertaining performances.
If you think of the UFC as a pro wrestling company that happens to have shoot-fights instead of pro wrestling matches, then it would make perfect sense for one of the winningest fighters in UFC history to be making a mid-level UFC salary, simply because he's not all that exciting when the bell rings.
On the other hand, if you think of the UFC as something that should be treated as a legitimate sport, then it would only make sense for one of the winningest fighters in UFC history and one of the best 185-pound fighters in the world to be making top-level pay for a middleweight, regardless of whether or not his fights are "exciting."
Sylvia and Telligman's Salaries Reflect the Huge Demand for Quality Heavyweights
Tim Sylvia is not too far from the top of the UFC pay scale, with his salary of $40,000 to fight and an additional $40,000 to win. After Sylvia lost to two of the top heavyweights in the sport (Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski), it was ridiculous when many MMA fans suggested that Sylvia no longer deserved to be a UFC fighter. That was nothing more than the latest example of fanboy-ism, so to speak, wherein a fighter is discarded as worthless in the court of public opinion after two losses, or even one loss in many cases. Three or four consecutive losses is a completely different story and actually does indicate a long-term slump, but one- and two-fight losing streaks are commonplace in MMA and should not be so prone to over-reaction.
While it was ridiculous for anyone to suggest that Sylvia didn't belong in the UFC after the first two losses of his career, it would certainly stand to reason that he wouldn't be making the same amount of money after two straight losses as he was when he was the UFC Heavyweight Champion. That's what one would think, but that's not what happened. In fact, Sylvia did not get a pay cut. He is making the same salary now that he was making when he was the champion.
The reason for this is simple. Quality heavyweight fighters are extremely hard to find, as evidenced by the fact that the UFC had trouble even filling out a roster of nine heavyweights for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter (thus the inclusion of fighters like Eli Joslin, who had an MMA record of 1-0). With the supply so low and the demand so high for quality heavyweight fighters, it only makes sense that the market value of heavyweight fighters would skyrocket.
Even coming off two straight losses, the fact is that Tim Sylvia is still one of the top ten heavyweights in the sport (though not in the top five), making him well worth the $40,000 to fight and $40,000 to win that the UFC is paying him.
In much the same way, the market value of Tra Telligman is drastically increased simply because he's a heavyweight. Normally, if the UFC was bringing in a fighter as an injury replacement, and that fighter's last MMA fight was over two years ago (as was the case with Telligman before this fight), there is no way in hell that fighter would be making $9,000 to fight and an additional $9,000 to win. However, because it's the heavyweight division, the forces of supply and demand immediately put Telligman's salary above what most middleweights and welterweights make in the UFC.
St. Pierre and Trigg Near the Top the Welterweight Pay Scale
Other than Matt Hughes, the two highest-paid welterweights in the UFC are Georges St. Pierre and Frank Trigg. After his loss to St. Pierre at UFC 54, Trigg's contract is not being renewed by the UFC, but going into this fight Trigg was still making $14,000 to fight and an additional $14,000 to win. That is the same amount of money that Trigg made at UFC 52 when he fought Matt Hughes for the Welterweight Title.
Georges St. Pierre serves as a classic example of a fighter who worked his way up through the UFC pay scale with multiple wins in the company. When he made his UFC debut at UFC 46, St. Pierre was only making $3,000 to fight and an additional $3,000 to win. His pay steadily increased with each passing win, and he made $9,000 to fight and an additional $9,000 to win for his dominant victory over Jason Miller at UFC 52 earlier this year. Finally, for his UFC 54 victory over Frank Trigg, St. Pierre got another raise, this time earning $13,000 to fight and an additional $15,000 to win.
For the purposes of comparison, St. Pierre's salary is far more than the amount earned by Karo Parisyan, who is the #1 contender for the Welterweight Title and will be fighting Matt Hughes on Spike TV in November. Parisyan was still only making $4,000 to fight and $4,000 to win as recently as UFC 51 earlier this year, although he will almost certainly be getting a big raise for his title fight against Matt Hughes.
One mitigating factor for St. Pierre, and all other MMA fighters who are not United States citizens, is that the US federal government taxes 30% of his American MMA income. So, while the talented Canadian's gross earnings were $28,000 for his fight at UFC 54, the US government's 30% share of that amount was $8,400. As a result, St. Pierre only went home with $19,600.
These American taxes are in addition to the income taxes that St. Pierre has to pay in Canada. Foreign fighters have it harder financially because they not only have to pay income taxes in their own country like everyone else does, but they also get 30% of their gross salary taxed by the US government.
Another Canadian, Joe Doerksen, was also subject to the 30% federal tax. Doerksen's contract paid him $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win. Doerksen had won 13 of his last 14 fights coming into event, but he lost to Matt Lindland via unanimous decision, so his gross earnings were just $5,000. The US government's 30% share of that amount was $1,500, meaning that Doerksen went home with $3,500 and still has to pay income taxes in his home country.
New Minimum UFC Salary Should Be Established
As I wrote in my breakdown of the Ultimate Fight Night salaries (which you can read here), the UFC is no longer losing money on every event, so there is no longer a need to pay the undercard fighters with relative peanuts in exchange for putting their bodies and health on the line. The UFC should establish a new minimum salary that they would meet or exceed with every fighter, and I believe that salary should be $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win.
Granted, that's still not a huge amount of money, but it's more than several fighters made on this event. James Irvin and Trevor Prangley each made $3,000 to fight and an additional $3,000 to win, while Travis Lutter's contract called for him to make $4,000 to fight and an additional $4,000 to win.
To put things in perspective about how much these fighters put their bodies on the line every time they compete, Terry Martin was brutally knocked out during this event and was stretchered out of the arena. He was ultimately okay and was back at the arena walking around before the end of the event, but he has still been suspended indefinitely by the doctors of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and will only be able to fight again when he takes and passes a thorough examination from a neurologist, and also has a follow-up MRI on his brain.
So, what did Terry Martin make for putting his body in a position where it could be injured like that, in the biggest MMA organization in the United States? Two thousand dollars.
As I have previously written, the UFC as an organization should be embarrassed to still be paying any fighter $2,000 to fight and $2,000 to win, given the fact that they're on national television, making money from the advertising on those TV shows and from the programming fees that Spike TV pays them for the rights to air those shows. To point out a specific example, like Terry Martin getting brutally knocked out and only making $2,000, only further illustrates the point that it is time for the UFC to adopt a higher minimum salary.
The specific figure of $5,000 to fight and $5,000 to win is just one of the many possible minimum salaries that the UFC could adopt. It certainly doesn't have to be that exact amount, but it does need to be more than it is right now.
If the UFC did have a minimum salary of $5,000 to fight and $5,000 to win, it would make a huge difference to all of the up-and-coming fighters who are currently making less than that, while barely making a dent in the UFC's total fighter payroll.
For example, if you go through the UFC 54 card and look at every fighter whose contract was under the "$5,000 and $5,000" standard, and you change all of those fighters' salaries to $5,000 and $5,000 (while leaving all of the other salaries unchanged), it would raise UFC 54's total fighter payroll from $635,000 to $650,000. That's it: An increase of 2.4 percent.
An increase of 2.4 percent would not put the UFC out of business, but it would make a positive difference in the lives of the undercard fighters who are putting their bodies on the line just as much as the top stars.
Sanchez and Van Arsdale Make More than One Might Expect
Two salaries that might stick out as being bigger than you would have expected are the salaries of Diego Sanchez and Mike Van Arsdale. Sanchez made $12,000 to fight and an additional $12,000 to win, which makes him the fourth highest paid welterweight in the UFC on a per-fight basis (and now the third highest paid, with Frank Trigg's contract not being renewed). That might seem outrageous to some, but it's the same amount of money that fellow Ultimate Fighter winners Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar are making on a per-fight basis, and Sanchez deserves it just as much as they do.
Sanchez is not yet one of the top ten welterweight fighters in the sport, and you may not like his cocky personality, but the fact is that he's a legitimate fighter, who won a legitimate Ultimate Fighter competition, and who could very well be a top five welterweight or even a champion someday. Now someone just has to remind him that Jesus is not actually one of his sponsors, and that it's fine to thank Jesus after a victory just as long as you don't mistakenly say that he's one of your sponsors...
As for Mike Van Arsdale, when he returned to the UFC in April of this year and defeated John Marsh in the heavyweight division, he made $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win. That was a pretty big salary for someone who hadn't fought on a major MMA show since 1998.
For his UFC 54 fight against Randy Couture, Van Arsdale's contract called for him to make $15,000 to fight and an additional $15,000 to win, which is a gigantic amount of money for any fighter whose record in the modern UFC era was 1-0 coming into this event. However, there is a logical reason for Van Arsdale's higher-than-normal salary, and it's simply that he was one of the only light-heavyweights willing to step up on fairly short notice and fight Randy Couture.
As with Chuck Liddell's opponent on this event, the UFC did not get its original choice. As previously reported by MMAWeekly, the UFC wanted to have a match between Randy Couture and Ken Shamrock, but the management team that represents both Couture and Shamrock (and Quinton Jackson, incidentally) would not even consider it because they are adamant that none of their fighters will ever fight each other.
With Shamrock out as a possible opponent for Couture, financial terms were reached with Renato "Babalu" Sobral for him to fight Couture.. With just a couple months to go before the scheduled fight, Sobral injured his shoulder in training and had to pull out of the event. For marketing reasons, the UFC needed to have Couture's UFC 54 opponent signed before UFC 53 took place, and there weren't a lot of quality light-heavyweights willing to step up and fight someone like Randy Couture without having several months to train for the fight.
Van Arsdale was just moving down in weight from the heavyweight division, but he stepped up and agreed to take a risky fight against a legendary fighter (and as it turned out, he ended up losing the fight while being out-wrestled for the first time in his MMA career). Van Arsdale took the fight, at a time when almost nobody else was willing to take it. The UFC rewarded Van Arsdale for his testicular fortitude, to use a term coined by Mick Foley, and agreed to pay him $15,000 to fight and an additional $15,000 to win.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter Season Premiere Draws Solid Ratings
The second season of The Ultimate Fighter debuted on Monday night with ratings that were significantly higher than the first season's averages in all key demographics. The show drew an overall rating of 1.7, which is a great rating by any standards on cable television.
However, last week's episode of UFC Unleashed, in the same timeslot and with no hype behind it, drew an overall rating of 1.8, which has to make it disappointing when one week later the heavily-hyped season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter draws an overall rating that is less than 1.8.
This would seem to indicate that the general public is more interested in seeing actual MMA fights than they are in seeing an MMA-based reality show, even if the fights being shown are old fights such as last week's airing of Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, and Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner. Those fights were built up with great promos from the fighters in the first five minutes of last week's UFC Unleashed, and the end result was a rating that out-drew the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter one week later.
If the general public is indeed more interested in actual UFC fights than a UFC-based reality show, that would be both good news and bad news for the UFC. It would be good news for the UFC in the sense that their long-term goal is obviously to get more people interested in watching actual UFC fights (and buying UFC pay-per-views).
At the same time, it's also bad news for the UFC in the sense that they want to draw good ratings with The Ultimate Fighter every week, so that they can continue to get paid a decent "programming rights" fee by Spike TV for each episode.
The combination of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV, UFC 54 on pay-per-view, and the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter have combined to give the UFC a huge amount of buzz. On Monday, August 22nd and again on Tuesday, August 23rd, the phrase "Ultimate Fighting Championship" was the #1 most searched-for phrase on Yahoo.com... not just in the sports category, but in any category, which is a huge accomplishment for the UFC.
Ratings Up Drastically from First Season Premiere
While the Ultimate Fighter's season premiere rating of 1.7 is disappointing in one sense, it does compare very favorably to the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. In terms of the overall rating, this week's 1.7 rating is up from the 1.4 rating that was drawn by TUF's first season premiere, and is also up from the 1.6 rating that the show averaged over the course of its first season.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, which is the demographic that is most coveted by advertisers and Spike TV executives, this week's season premiere of TUF drew a rating of 2.5. That is a huge increase from the 1.5 rating that was drawn by Week 1 of The Ultimate Fighter last season in the same demographic. This week's 2.5 rating is also up from the Season 1 Average of 2.2 in this demographic.
If you break down the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic to look for which specific age group watches The Ultimate Fighter in the greatest numbers, the answer is the same now as it was in the first season: The Ultimate Fighter is most popular with males between the ages of 25 and 34.
While the first season of The Ultimate Fighter got off to a slow start last season with a Week 1 rating of 1.3 in this demographic, it's exactly the opposite for Season 2. The second season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter drew a whopping 2.9 rating in the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic. This is not only a huge increase from what the show drew in Week 1 last season, but it's also a huge increase from the Season 1 Average of 2.2 in this demographic.
In the broader demographic of 18-to-49-year-old males, this week's season premiere of TUF drew a rating of 2.1. That is also a huge increase from the 1.5 rating that was drawn by Week 1 of TUF last season in the same demographic. This week's 2.1 rating also surpasses the Season 1 Average of 1.8 in this demographic.
Comparing This Week's TUF Rating to the Highest Ratings from Last Season
Looking back at each individual week of The Ultimate Fighter's first season and comparing it to TUF 2's season premiere, this week's overall rating of 1.7 is tied for the third-highest rating that The Ultimate Fighter has ever drawn in the Monday at 11:05 PM timeslot. The only episodes to top it in Season 1 were Week 6 and Week 11.
In the key demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males, this week's rating of 2.5 is tied for the second-highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot, with the first season's Week 10 being the only episode to top it.
In the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic, this week's rating of 2.9 is easily the highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot. In the first season, only one episode drew more than a 2.5 rating in the Monday timeslot (Week 10). No other episode even came close to this week's 2.9 rating.
Finally, in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, this week's rating of 2.1 is tied for the second-highest rating that TUF has ever drawn in the Monday timeslot, with the first season's Week 11 being the only episode to top it.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Today's update features my thoughts on the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter, along with additional details on the UFC's decision to release Ivan Salaverry from his UFC contract.
Thoughts on The Ultimate Fighter's Season Premiere
The season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter has come and gone, and it was a largely entertaining show that was only marred by two fighters quitting.
At the beginning of the show, I loved the idea that whoever was picked as the "weakest link" in each weight class would not actually be eliminated without ever getting a chance to fight (which was BS in the first season), but would instead get a chance to fight for their survival and could fight the opponent of their choice. That would have also solved the problem of not having a fight in the season premiere, which hurt the show in the first season. Unfortunately, it didn't work out given the circumstances with the two quitters, but no one could help that.
As for the two quitters, I could go either way on Kenny Stevens because he did quit, but that kind of sauna environment is also dangerous no matter how commonplace it is. As a result, I can't come down too hard on him if he was legitimately out of it from the weight-cutting.
Eli Joslin is a different story. First of all, how in the hell did he get on the show with an MMA record of 1-0? And second of all, he says "the camera thing" isn't working for him? Did he think he was going to study to be a monk at a secluded temple somewhere? He signed up to be on a reality show! I guess if he was not completely mentally stable, it was good that he did quit, because there could be disastrous or tragic consequences if a mentally unstable person is put in a house with nothing to do, with other aggressive males around, and with large amounts of alcohol. (I don't know if there is alcohol in the house in Season 2, but given what happened in Season 1 and how much more serious that could situation could have been, it would be nothing short of a Trash TV move if there is alcohol in the house again this season).
In the first season, the UFC had a lot of contestants get red-flagged at the last minute for various things, whether it was something on a background check or a drug test. That's why you saw so many natural 185-pound fighters competing at 205 pounds, and that's why you saw so many 170-pound fighters competing at 185 pounds. The UFC also had a hard time filling out the roster of heavyweight fighters for Season 2 due to the background checks, drug testing, and medical tests, not to mention the fact that good heavyweights are hard to find in general.
Nonetheless, it's very important to do all of those tests, and I think the producers should add an extra layer to the screening process for Season 3. I think they should add a mental health exam, which is a standard thing with a lot of employers even when the job at stake is a lot less inherently risky than fighting for a living. It's perfectly legitimate to check on that kind of thing, for the fighters' own good.
I'm not necessarily saying that contestants who are being considered for the show should be subjected to the kind of "brain-typing" that is done by many NFL and NBA teams. I'm just referring to a general psychological exam to make sure that nobody makes it on the show who is more likely than the average person to become paranoid about "the whole camera thing," or to compare the experience of being on a reality show to being in prison. There should also be exhaustive questionnaires and interviews to make sure that the contestants are 100% committed to being a fighter and are not going to quit.
Obviously, the producers of a reality show don't want to have 18 people who are all completely mature and mellow at all times, but I'm sure they also don't want to have quitters who lower the total number of fights that are actually on each season.
Other thoughts on the season premiere... The element of Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes getting angry at the contestants when it's warranted is something that we didn't really see in the first season with Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, who never really got angry with anyone. This adds an extra dimension to the show because you rarely get to see world champions like Hughes and Franklin in that kind of environment, getting angry and reacting as they naturally would. So far, Franklin appears to be the more easily annoyed of the two, while Hughes' greater level of coaching experience makes him harder to upset.
Jorge Gurgel has star written all over him from a charisma standpoint, and I mean that in a Nate Quarry kind of way as opposed to a Chris Leben kind of way. And who has gotten bigger pops from the crowds in their UFC fights, Quarry or Leben? The answer is Quarry, by far. Gurgel seemed like a total class act and a great representative of the sport, which is exactly what a TUF contestant should be. It's possible to have classy people on the show representing MMA, while still having entertaining television.
Additional Details on Why Ivan Salaverry Was Released by the UFC
The Observer's Dave Meltzer has added additional details on top of what was previously reported by MMAWeekly about the UFC's decision to release Ivan Salaverry from his UFC contract. Meltzer reports that it was Salaverry's overly passive and defensive performance in the fight that caused him to be released by the UFC.
Meltzer reports, "The company [Zuffa] feels that at this stage, they can't afford to be using fighters who don't go out there and give the people good fights... there was a feeling that they had to do it [release Salaverry], but they hated doing it with Salaverry, who they liked. Stephan Bonnar got a six-figure contract [earlier this year] for a fight that he lost because he fought his heart out and gave people a fight of the year, while Salaverry refused to fight, and got cut."
Additionally, the UFC was not happy with the quality of the Ultimate Fight Night show due to the lackluster main event. Meltzer reports, "Unlike a lot of pro wrestling promotions, who have a bad show and then go into denial about it, both Dana White and Joe Silva were said to be upset after Ultimate Fight Night because of the main event, and they may have actually been more critical of the show than their audience. However, Spike TV was thrilled with the rating, even though to me it should have been a disappointment with all that hype. Spike felt it was a great rating for a Saturday night, and they achieved their goal of being the highest-rated sports telecast on cable for the day."
Monday, August 22, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- In-Depth Interview on the Nathan Marquardt Steroids Situation
Originally Published on August 20, 2005 on MMAWeekly
by Ivan Trembow
MMAWeekly's Ivan Trembow recently spoke with Nevada's Chief Deputy Attorney General, Keith Kizer, about the case of UFC fighter Nathan Marquardt. Marquardt tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone after his fight on August 6th (the original news story can be found here), but he took a re-test this week and it came back negative.
Ivan Trembow: How did the mix-up happen with the Nevada State Athletic Commission coming to believe that Nathan Marquardt's steroids re-test had come back positive, when in fact the re-test was negative?
Keith Kizer: Zuffa [parent company of the UFC] called the lab to get the results, and instead of getting the results of the re-test, they actually got the results of the original drug test, which of course was positive. So Zuffa tells us that, you know, the re-test has come in and it's positive, and then we pass that on to the media. So then today... the commission's secretary calls me, because she had also been told that the re-test was positive, and she says, "I just got the actual hard copy of the test results from the lab, and it says negative." So I went to talk about it with Marc [Ratner, who is the executive director of the NSAC], and talked about it with some people from Zuffa, and we found out where the confusion was. Zuffa thought that the "positive" test result they were given by the lab was for the re-test, but it was actually for the original test. And the re-test came back negative. So we obviously apologized to Mr. Marquardt, but we were told that the re-test was positive. I'm sure some people are going to think there's a conspiracy or something, but we were originally told that the re-test was positive. We now know, straight from the lab, that the re-test was negative.
Ivan Trembow: So does that mean that the original test that was taken on August 6th, which came back positive, was a false-positive?
Keith Kizer: Not necessarily. From here, the complaint goes forward, because he did test positive after the fight [on August 6th], and that's something for the commission to hear from the experts on. It could mean that there was something wrong with the first test, or it could mean that it just took a little bit longer to get out of his system, or it could mean any number of different things. That's up to the commission to decide, and we'll have medical experts who will testify. But in the first test, the nandrolone levels were pretty significant. The number I got was 49, although I don't know if that's 49 milligrams or what because I'm not 100% sure what the unit of measurement is. But it was 49 on the first test, according to the actual lab results.
Ivan Trembow: And the legal limit is what?
Keith Kizer: I don't know what the exact legal limit is or what the cut-off is. That's something that you would have to ask one of our medical people. But there is a cut-off that's less than that. What I was told is that 49 is well above what the cut-off is. Now, we know that 49 is the exact number for the original test, but we don't have the exact number for the re-test yet. We just know that the re-test was below the cut-off. So let's say for example that the cut-off is ten. The re-test could have come in at zero or it could have come in at nine. We don't know that yet. We just know that the re-test was under the cut-off, and the original test was well over the cut-off.
Ivan Trembow: What about the Androstenedione, which Nathan Marquardt was taking in a supplement and which can cause a false-positive for nandrolone? I know that Androstenedione is on the athletic commission's banned substances list, but I understand that the commission doesn't actually test for it...
Keith Kizer: ...Well, if you just look at any UFC site on the Internet you will see some people say that Androstenedione can lead to false-positives for nandrolone, and then you will see some other people say that Androstenedione can't lead to false-positives for nandrolone. That's not for me to decide personally, that's something for our medical experts to decide. But I mean, Androstenedione, that's something that is banned in the United States as of January 20, 2005, and the health food stores are allowed to sell their remaining stash of it, but not anymore after that supply runs out. So in the case of Mr. Marquardt, one of the possibilities is that he was taking nandrolone and now it's out of his system, which would be a violation. And another one of the possibilities is that he got a false-positive for nandrolone as a result of taking a supplement with Androstenedione in it, and Androstenedione is also a banned substance, so that's not good, either. Those are two of the possibilities that it could be. Now, I don't know if the commission is going to give him some lee-way on the Androstenedione because it was legal until January of this year, or maybe he didn't know, if he did in fact buy it from a GNC-type store from their remaining supply. How the commission handles the Androstenedione, that's going to be something that is up to the commissioners to decide.
Ivan Trembow: You said before that there are a lot of possibilities in terms of where the commission could go from here with this case. Can you talk a bit more about what some of those possibilities are?
Keith Kizer: Well, I think there are three questions here that we're going to be able to answer eventually. The first question is this... is the fact that the second test came back negative relevant to the first test? It might be relevant, or it might be completely irrelevant because it might be quite common for a test done eight days or ten days later to come back negative, if it's a steroid that cycles through your system that quickly. Guys who do cheat, and I'm not saying that Mr. Marquardt is one of them because he might not be, but the guys who do take steroids, they try to work it that way. So the first question is, how relevant is the second test result to the first test result, if it's relevant at all? The second question is, does the level of nandrolone in the first test indicate usage of nandrolone? Was it that high compared to what's normal? And that's something that our medical experts are going to testify about. The third thing is, if he didn't take nandrolone, there's still the Androstenedione, and he would still have to answer to that. And what effect does that have on an athlete's performance?
Ivan Trembow: But if he never tested positive for Androstenedione because the commission doesn't test for it, can that be used against him? I mean, it's a completely different kind of substance, but this week Randy Moss told Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that he has used marijuana, but Randy Moss has never tested positive for marijuana under the NFL's drug testing program, so he's not going to be suspended by the NFL. And in Nathan Marquardt's case, he admits to using a supplement that has Androstenedione in it, but he never tested positive for it... is there precedent for this kind of situation for the Nevada State Athletic Commission?
Keith Kizer: No, there isn't, but this is an issue that the commissioners are going to have to decide. I mean, it's going to be very interesting to see what Mr. Marquardt has to say when he has his hearing. If he comes in and says, "I didn't take nandrolone, but I did take Androstenedione," that's something that the commissioners have to consider. They might look at that and say, "It's a less serious drug," or they might say, "Hey, it's the same thing to us. They're both steroids." So I can't really answer you because it's not my call, it's the commission's call, but I can tell you this. If not for the positive test... I mean, if he had tested negative after his fight, and we just heard that he was taking Androstenedione, we probably wouldn't take any action against him, although you can't be 100 percent sure about that. We generally don't take any action against someone unless we get a positive test result back for something, and you hear rumors about people all the time. I think Randy Moss is a good example in the NFL, and generally, we don't take action against someone unless we get a positive test back. But let me tell you this. If it turns out that he just got a false-positive on the nandrolone from taking a supplement containing Androstenedione, that does not mean that he didn't violate the rules...
Ivan Trembow: ... you mean purely because Androstenedione is a banned substance...
Keith Kizer: Yeah, but I mean, it's still very early on. We haven't gotten his official response yet because the written complaint just went out from our offices today, with the documents for the original positive test result attached to it. So he has twenty days to formally respond to that in writing from the time that he receives it, and we allow three days for mailing time.
Ivan Trembow: In the case of Androstenedione, that is something that a person might not necessarily know is a substance that is banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Why doesn't the athletic commission provide the fighters with a list of banned substances?
Keith Kizer: It's my understanding that the commission does not provide a banned substance list because there are way too many supplements to give fighters a warning list. Individual fighters have asked the commission about certain products, and the commission told them what we knew. With the Internet and product warning labels, the athletes have a lot of information at their disposal.
Ivan Trembow: Okay, so to summarize the case as it now stands, the case is going forward even with the re-test coming back negative, due to the fact that the original test from August 6th came back positive. But the fact that he did get a re-test and it did come back negative is something that he can certainly present as evidence in his favor, right?
Keith Kizer: Yes. That's something for him to provide. We didn't order the re-test, he did and Zuffa did. We generally don't order re-tests, just because some of these drugs can get in and out of your system so quickly. So, we don't normally ask for a second test. As far as we're concerned, the first test is what's relevant and that's what we're going on at this point. But at the same time, his side has the right to present a defense, and I would assume that's why he took the re-test in the first place, to use it for evidence. But whether or not the re-test is relevant, we'll have to see what the medical experts have to say about that. I mean, if you're taking something, sooner or later... you know, if you take a test every day, sooner or later it would come back negative. The question we have to ask the medical experts is: How long is eight days for this steroid? Is it a long time, or is it a short time? And if it's a short time, does that necessarily mean that the first test was off? Or could he have cleansed it from his body in those eight days? Or could his body have just naturally gotten it out in those eight days? Or could the first test result have been faulty? That's something for our medical experts to answer. I mean, there are so many different factors here. There are so many different products on the market that you can use to flush out your system. We do test for masking agents and he tested negative for masking agents on both tests, but there are also more natural ways to flush your system out, and whether or not someone could do it in eight days is something that we have to ask the medical experts. But as for the case in general, nandrolone and Androstenedione are both banned products, so it wouldn't be a complete defense if someone were to say, "I didn't take this banned product, it was just a false-positive that I got from taking this other banned product." But the commission is going to consider everything, and they will give him every opportunity to explain himself.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- The week leading up to UFC 54 was a big week for MMA news, including the following two stories, which were written by me and originally published on MMAWeekly...
This Week's UFC Unleashed Draws the UFC's Highest TV Rating Since April
The UFC has started to gain some TV ratings momentum, topped off by this week's episode of UFC Unleashed on Spike TV. The Monday, August 15th episode of UFC Unleashed was the most-watched UFC-related broadcast on Spike TV since the April 9th live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter's first season.
Debuting on Monday night at 11:05 PM, this week's episode of UFC Unleashed drew an overall rating of 1.8, which actually surpasses the 1.6 rating that the first season of The Ultimate Fighter averaged in the same timeslot.
Even more impressively, the show drew a 2.1 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, which surpasses the 1.8 rating that the first season of TUF averaged in that demographic in the same timeslot.
In the demographic that is most coveted by advertisers and Spike TV executives, 18-to-34-year-old males, the show drew an even higher 2.3 rating, which is slightly better than the average rating of 2.2 that was drawn by the first season of TUF in that demographic.
This particular episode of UFC Unleashed featured three fights: Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg I from UFC 45, Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II from UFC 52, and Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner I from UFC 42. This episode also featured more pre-fight promos from the fighters than previous episodes of UFC Unleashed, as the UFC re-aired the same pre-fight interviews with the fighters that aired before each match originally took place on pay-per-view. It could be argued that having the added context of an entire video package about the build-up to each fight made viewers more likely to stick around to see the fight itself.
In any case, the UFC is gaining ratings momentum at the right time, because this was the last week in which new episodes of UFC Unleashed will debut in the Monday at 11:05 PM timeslot. Starting next week on August 22nd, new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter will debut each Monday at 11:05 PM after WWE Raw.
Like last season, there will be 12 regular episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and one live season finale. Unlike last season, the show is going to change its timeslot in the middle of the season. The first six episodes, starting on August 22nd and going through September 26th, will debut on Monday nights at 11:05 PM after WWE Raw. At that point, WWE Raw will leave Spike TV and head back to USA Network, and The Ultimate Fighter will get a new timeslot.
Starting with Week Seven on Saturday, October 1st, each new episode of The Ultimate Fighter will debut in its new timeslot of Saturday at 9:00 PM. The show may or may not continue to air in the latenight Monday timeslot at that point, but new episodes will be premiering every Saturday night.
If the schedule change in the middle of the season throws you off, or if you forget which week it changes when the time comes, don't worry: Each new episode of The Ultimate Fighter will still be replayed numerous times throughout the week on Spike TV.
Randy Couture, Ken Shamrock, and Quinton Jackson All Under Same Management Umbrella
The Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer has reported that the real reason there hasn't been a UFC fight between Randy Couture and Ken Shamrock is that both fighters are under the same management umbrella. Among the fighters that are all managed by the same group of agents are Randy Couture, Ken Shamrock, and Quinton Jackson, and their management team has been adamant that none of their fighters will face each other in competition.
When the UFC was originally putting together the UFC 54 event line-up, the opponent that they wanted for Randy Couture was Ken Shamrock, who is coming off a knockout loss at the hands of Rich Franklin back in April. The UFC offered Shamrock just as much money as he made in his previous UFC appearance, and to Shamrock's credit, he never turned down the offer.
According to the Observer, the offer never actually made it to Shamrock, because his representives were not willing to even consider matching any of their fighters against each other. This also includes Quinton Jackson, whose Pride no-compete clause expires at the end of August, so any talk of a potential Couture vs. Jackson match also has to go out the window as long as their management team has the same policy.
As previously reported on MMAWeekly, one fight that was signed for UFC 54 was Randy Couture vs. Renato "Babalu" Sobral, but Sobral had to pull out of the fight due to a training injury. When Sobral pulled out, Mike Van Arsdale was contacted and came to terms with the UFC to fight Couture at UFC 54. Sporting a career record of 8-1 in MMA (with his only loss coming at the hands of Vanderlei Silva) and very impressive amateur wrestling credentials, Van Arsdale will be coming down from heavyweight to light-heavyweight.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Vince McMahon's favorite son-in-law, Triple H, was on the season finale of MTV's Punk'd this week. Stephanie McMahon was with him and was in cahoots with the producers of the show. Stacy Keibler was also there, but was not a participant in the stunt itself. Stacy was only there as an observer to sit with Ashton Kutcher and the other producers of the show as they fed lines to actors and watched the events unfold from numerous hidden camera angles.
Stephanie and Triple H walked into a room with the impression that they were there for a photographer to take pictures of Triple H for Maxim Magazine. As soon as the door to the room closed behind them, the entire cast of the prank scrambled into action, with a fake bride waiting right up against the other side of the door.
So, Stephanie and Hunter walk into the room, and Stephanie says, "Hi, I'm Steph." I couldn't hear how Triple H introduced himself, but I would be willing to bet it wasn't as Paul (his real first name). They are told by a photographer that he is just there to do the photography for a wedding and he doesn't know anything about a Maxim photo shoot, and they must have the wrong date or the wrong place. Triple H looks mildly annoyed at the mix-up, but not angry about it or anything like that. Stephanie waits so that Hunter leaves the room first, so that when Hunter opens the door, it slams smack-dab into the face of the supposed "bride."
The fake bride is on the floor crying, and they must have had a fake blood capsule thing to make it look like the door really did hit her right in the nose. Triple H seems nice at first, asking if she's okay, but quickly gets defensive about it when the fake "best man" of the wedding says, "This guy just plowed right through the door!" Triple H kept saying he just opened a door and this woman happened to be on the other side of it. The best man says, "But this guy slammed the door open!" and Triple H tells the best man to shut up (in the immediate aftermath of the bride going down).
At some point, the groom comes running in after someone went to get him, and he tries to comfort his bride. They make it seem realistic as more people in the fake wedding party show up at the scene of the accident, and ask what happened and have to be told what happened. Everytime someone asks what happened, the best man says that this guy opened the door really quick and it hit the bride in the face, and Triple H looks pissed at him but doesn't tell him to shut up again.
It was pretty funny up to this point, but here's where the hilarity really goes off the charts. The guy who is playing the role of the wedding photographer says, "Am I going to get paid? I'm here for four more hours, I want to get paid and I need to be taking pictures." Triple H tells him to shut his mouth and go in the other room, and he'll be there to talk to him in a few minutes. At this point, when they realize the photographer really gets on Triple H's nerves, Ashton Kutcher is feeding lines to the fake photographer to antagonize Triple H more.
The photographer is persistent and says that he has other gigs he could be doing with his time. Triple H says, "You're going to be pulling that camera out of your f---ing ass if you don't go in the other room and leave us alone." The photographer goes to the other room, but not before saying on the way over there that maybe Triple H should do some push-ups to blow off some steam, which elicits a death glare from Triple H. Triple H actually tries to close the door on the photographer, but the door is jammed and the photographer, best man, and groom all say at the same time that Triple H shouldn't be touching any more doors and he has done enough damage already.
The groom says that his bride might have a broken nose, and Triple H says that it will be taken care of (presumably meaning that he will pay for the medical expenses). The groom is still upset and says, "What about my wedding?" and Triple H's response is, "What do you want me to do about it?" since there isn't really much that can be done.
Hilariously, the photographer then comes out of the room with his camera equipment and starts setting up as if he's going to take pictures as people are tending to the bride's face. The photographer says that they should get some pictures while they still can, before her face starts to swell. And Triple H actually says to him, "You go back to your f---ing hole!" which has the entire production crew laughing hysterially backstage, including Stacy Keibler who is sitting with them.
The photographer says, "Come on, man, I'm just trying to do my job here, I'm getting paid to take pictures." Triple H tells him to go do his job in the other room. The photographer says he can't do his job in the other room because no one is in there, at which point Triple H asks him how expensive his camera equipment is. Before the fake photographer can answer, Triple H says, "... because I'm about to smash it if you don't get out of here." The best man then chimes in that maybe the photographer should take pictures "for evidence," which elicits another death glare but no spoken words from Triple H. The groom then asks the photographer if he's crazy and tells him not to take any pictures.
It seems that the situation has played out about as much as it can play out, so the crew of producers in the back headed by Ashton Kutcher (with Stacy Keibler right behind him since she was there an an observer) leave their room, go down a few hallways, and rush towards Triple H, telling him that he is on Punk'd. He smiles and laughs, but also looks a bit embarrassed. He did not acknowledge Stacy Keibler at all in the footage that was shown, and I can't help but wonder if there was heat on her after this prank happened because she is not married to Triple H but was still there watching for some reason.
In the brief footage that was shown of Triple H after he was told that he had been Punk'd, Stephanie McMahon was not in those shots that I could see, although Triple H did tell someone, "I'm going to get you!" It wasn't clear who he was talking to, but it looked like it might have been Ashton Kutcher, and it was definitely not Stephanie.
Hilariously, Stephanie's name was mis-spelled in two different places, both during the show in her caption and during the credits when they listed all the people who appeared on the show. Her name was spelled, "Stephani McMahon." To compensate for this injustice, Stephanie is probably going to hire a dozen more Hollywood writers who know nothing about pro wrestling. Maybe she'll raid the staff of Punk'd just to teach them a lesson. You don't mis-spell the name of the Billion Dollar Princess and get away with it.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Nathan Marquardt Tests Positive for Steroids
Originally Published on August 15, 2005 on MMAWeekly.com
by Ivan Trembow
Breaking news.... MMAWeekly has learned that UFC figher Nathan Marquardt has tested positive for steroids. Following the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night event on August 6th, two fighters were drug-tested: Nathan Marquardt and Ivan Salaverry. Salaverry's test results have come back negative, but Nathan Marquardt's test results came back this afternoon and were positive.
Marquardt tested positive for a significant amount of nandrolone metabolite, which is a serious anabolic steroid. Nandrolone is the same steroid that was found in the body of heavyweight boxer James Toney earlier this year. Marquardt has not received the official complaint from the athletic commission yet, but he did receive formal notification that he tested positive earlier today.
Whenever Marquardt does receive the full complaint (more than likely a few days from now), he will have 20 days to formally respond and/or appeal. At that point, a hearing date would be set, and at that hearing Marquardt could be suspended and/or fined. At this point, the athletic commission is awaiting a formal response from Nathan Marquardt.
One important side note is that this will not change the result of the Marquardt vs. Salaverry fight, which is that Marquardt won the fight by unanimous decision. There is no provision in place in the state of Nevada to change a boxing or MMA fight to a no-contest if the winning fighter is found to have steroids in his system.
For example, Josh Barnett had steroids in his system when he beat Randy Couture in 2002, and the victory technically still stands in the record books. Similarly, when Gan McGee's representatives tried to get his loss to Tim Sylvia changed to a no-contest in 2003 following Sylvia's positive steroids test, McGee's representatives were unsuccessful in in their efforts.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- The Full Story on Frank Mir Being Stripped of the UFC Heavyweight Title
We conclude a week dominated by MMA reporting here on Ivan's Blog with the breaking news that the UFC has officially stripped Frank Mir of the UFC Heavyweight Title, nearly 14 months after his last fight.
As is always the case when there is an "Interim Champion" in boxing or MMA, the Interim Champion becomes the full-fledged champion if the previous champion is stripped of the belt. As a result, the up-until-now Interim Champion Andrei Arlovski is now the Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion.
While Interim Champions are a common occurrence in boxing, their history in MMA is much more limited. When Tito Ortiz refused to fight #1 contender Chuck Liddell in 2003 (instead demanding a $1.1 million contract), the UFC created an Interim Title, which would be awarded to the winner of the fight between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell at UFC 43. When Couture won that fight, he became the Interim Champion, and Ortiz re-signed with the UFC very shortly thereafter. The Champion Tito Ortiz faced the Interim Champion Randy Couture, and Couture became the Undisputed Champion when he won that fight.
In a different situation that also created the need for an Interim Champion in 2003, Fedor Emelianenko was unable to fight in Pride's desired timeframe due to injury, so an "Interim Title" was created and put up for grabs in a fight between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop. Nogueira won the fight by submission and became the Interim Champion. In 2004, the 16-man Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix ended with Nogueira and Emelianenko fighting to a no-contest in the finals of the tournament, due to a massive cut on Emelianenko's head. Both the normal championship and the interim title were put on the line on December 31, 2004 in a fight that Emelianenko won by unanimous decision, making him the Undisputed Pride Heavyweight Champion once again.
Unlike Tito Ortiz or Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir's story does not involve a hold-out or a training injury. Mir was last seen in the Octagon in June 2004, when he became the UFC Heavyweight Champion by breaking Tim Sylvia's arm and winning the fight by referee's stoppage.
In September 2004, Mir was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. The specifics of the accident are that an elderly driver ran a stop sign and rammed into the side of Frank Mir's motorcycle, with the impact of the collision striking Mir's leg. The force of the collision threw Mir a great distance in the air, to the point that he is very lucky to have not been killed in the accident. Mir escaped the accident with his life, but he suffered numerous injuries, the most serious of which was a badly broken leg.
It was expected that Mir would be out of action for approximately 12 months. The UFC chose to create an Interim Heavyweight Title, which Andrei Arlovski won in February of 2005 and successfully defended in June of 2005. Mir had initially gotten back into training sooner than expected and was hoping to be ready for a summer 2005 return, but that was an unrealistic timetable, and his unification fight with Arlovski was delayed until October 2005.
Normally, a UFC champion is stripped of his title if he goes an entire year without defending the title. The UFC waived this rule for Tito Ortiz when he went 14 months between title defenses in 2001-2002, and the UFC also waived this rule for Frank Mir by not stripping him of the title this past June when the one-year mark had passed since his last fight.
At some point in the past several months, Mir began working once again as a security guard/bouncer at the Spearmint Rhino, which is a strip club in Las Vegas. Also, the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer cited sources who raised serious questions about how committed Frank Mir was to training for his MMA comeback. Additionally, the nature of Mir's leg injury was such that the leg may or may not ever be as healthy as it was before the motorcycle accident.
In the last couple of weeks, it became clear that Frank Mir would not be ready to fight in October, leaving the UFC with two choices. They could delay Andrei Arlovski's next scheduled fight until December and plan the heavyweight division around the Mir-Arlovski fight taking place in December. Alternatively, the UFC could schedule Arlovski to fight someone else in October, and consider the possibility of stripping Mir of the Heavyweight Title.
The UFC went with Option #2, as there continue to be serious doubts about whether Mir will be ready to fight even in December, and the UFC has scheduled Andrei Arlovski vs. Paul Buentello to take place at UFC 55 on October 7. Now, instead of being for the Interim Heavyweight Title, the fight between Arlovski and Buentello will be for the full-fledged UFC Heavyweight Title, as Frank Mir has finally been stripped of the title.
At this point, Frank Mir remains on good terms with the UFC, but it's not known when or if he will ever return to active fighting. Frank Mir got married last October and has a young child, and we as MMA fans should all hope that Mir has a happy life outside of MMA in the unfortunate event that he is not able to continue in his MMA career.
If he never fights again, and that's a big "if," Mir's career will go down as a great career that also had a huge amount of unrealized potential, and was cut short due to a motorcycle accident. Mir could have been (and still could be) a great ambassador for the sport, not only because he's a heavyweight who specializes in ground-fighting, but also because he's one of the most well-spoken fighters in the UFC.
Given how young he still is (he just turned 26 years old a few months ago), there is still plenty of hope that Mir will eventually be able to return. In the meantime, the UFC's heavyweight division will now be built around the October 7th fight between Andrei Arlovski and Paul Buentello the Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Title.
The UFC's official statement on Frank Mir reads, "We extend our admiration and respect to our former heavyweight champion Frank Mir who is still rehabilitating himself from the injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in September 2004. We are hopeful that Frank will eventually recover from those injuries and look forward to the day he is medically cleared to return to the Octagon."
Friday, August 12, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC, King of the Cage, and K-1 USA Salary Breakdown
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly.com
Complete Salary Breakdown for UFC Ultimate Fight Night, plus Two Recent K-1 USA and King of the Cage Events
MMAWeekly has obtained the complete fighter payroll information for the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night event, as well as the fighter payroll information for two recent King of the Cage and K-1 USA events. The King of the Cage and K-1 USA salary information is presented for the purposes of comparison, in order to add some perspective to the UFC salaries. Below is a full listing of all the salaries from the three organizations, followed by my commentary and analysis on the salaries.
-The Dave Terrell who fought on the King of the Cage event listed below is not the same David Terrell who is a Pancrase and UFC fighter.
-K-1 fighters make five- and six-figure salaries for fights in Japan, but those salaries have not been obtained by any journalist, other than the fact that the world champion of the K-1 World Grand Prix each year gets a grand prize of approximately 400,000 American dollars. As I have said in previous articles, the salaries for K-1 USA events are tiny compared to the salaries for K-1 events held in Japan.
-The highest-paid fighter on the UFC event listed below was Stephan Bonnar, and he is still in a relatively low position on the UFC pay scale on a per-fight basis. To see my complete salary breakdown for the UFC 52 pay-per-view event (where Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell made a combined $290,000), just click here.
K-1 USA Fighter Salaries
Event took place on April 30, 2005
(fighters were paid a base salary with no win bonuses)
-Mighty Mo Siliga: $5,000
-Remy Bonjasky: $5,000
-Rick Roufus: $5,000
-Akio "Musashi" Mori: $5,000
-Carter Williams: $5,000
-Yusuke Fujimoto: $5,000
-Gary Goodridge: $5,000
-Glaube Feitosa: $5,000
-Tsuyoshi Nakasako: $5,000
-Dewey Cooper: $3,000
-Sean O'Haire: $2,500
-Mark Selbee: $2,000
-Scott Lighty: $2,000
-Patrick Barry: $1,500
-Terrol Dees: $1,500
-Dustin Hanning: $1,500
-Steve Steinbeiss: $1,500
-Dan Evensen: $1,500
Total Fighter Payroll: $62,000 (average of $3,444 per fighter)
King of the Cage 52: Mortal Sin Fighter Salaries
Event took place on May 7, 2005
-Eric Pele: $3,500 ($2,000 for fighting; $1,500 win bonus)
-Urijah Faber: $2,000 ($1,000 for fighting; $1,000 win bonus)
-Marvin Eastman: $1,500 ($1,500 for fighting; win bonus would have been $1,000)
-Jason Lambert: $1,500 ($1,000 for fighting; $500 win bonus)
-Bobby Hoffman: $1,000 ($1,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $1,000)
-Hiroyuki Abe: $1,000 ($1,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $0)
-Joe Frainee: $750 ($500 for fighting; $250 win bonus)
-Hector Ramirez: $750 ($500 for fighting; $250 win bonus)
-Manny Tapia: $750 ($500 for fighting; $250 win bonus)
-Fernando Gonzalez: $700 ($700 for fighting; win bonus would have been $300)
-Dave Terrell: $600 ($400 for fighting; $200 win bonus)
-Miguel Gutierrez: $600 ($300 for fighting; $300 win bonus)
-Frankie Bollinger: $500 ($500 for fighting, win bonus would have been $0)
-Richard Goodman: $500 ($500 for fighting, win bonus would have been $0)
-Ray Perales: $500 ($500 for fighting; win bonus would have been $250)
-Kendall Groves: $400 ($400 for fighting, win bonus would have been $200)
Total Fighter Payroll: $16,550 (average of $1,034 per fighter)
UFC Ultimate Fight Night Fighter Salaries
Event took place on August 6, 2005
-Stephan Bonnar: $24,000 ($12,000 for fighting; $12,000 win bonus)
-Nathan Marquardt: $20,000 ($10,000 for fighting; $10,000 win bonus)
-Kenny Florian: $12,000 ($6,000 for fighting; $6,000 win bonus)
-Chris Leben: $10,000 ($5,000 for fighting; $5,000 win bonus)
-Nate Quarry: $10,000 ($5,000 for fighting; $5,000 win bonus)
-Josh Koscheck: $10,000 ($5,000 for fighting; $5,000 win bonus)
-Mike Swick: $10,000 ($5,000 for fighting; $5,000 win bonus)
-Ivan Salaverry: $8,000 ($8,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $8,000)
-Patrick Cote: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Sam Hoger: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Alex Karalexis: $5,000 ($5,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $5,000)
-Pete Sell: $4,000 ($4,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $4,000)
-Pete Spratt: $4,000 ($4,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $3,000)
-Drew Fickett: $4,000 ($2,000 for fighting; $2,000 win bonus)
-Gideon Ray: $3,000 ($3,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $3,000)
-Josh Neer: $2,000 ($2,000 for fighting; win bonus would have been $2,000)
Total Fighter Payroll: $136,000 (average of $8,500 per fighter)
Analysis and Commentary
-This was not a full-fledged UFC event from a financial standpoint, as it was not a pay-per-view event and it didn't feature a huge star like the April 9th live event did with Ken Shamrock. In general, the total fighter payroll for the Spike TV events will always be smaller than the fighter payroll for pay-per-view events, which are still the UFC's biggest revenue generator.
-Nathan Marquardt had a big contract for his UFC debut, and you may be asking yourself why his salary was so high compared to other fighters when they make their debut in the UFC. The answer is simple: In order to entice Marquardt to sign with the UFC, Zuffa had to offer a higher-than-usual amount of money, because Marquardt was actually making more than that on a per-fight basis in the Japan-based Pancrase organization, where he is one of the biggest stars in the promotion. In order to make it worth his while to sign with the UFC, Zuffa had to offer Marquardt a higher-than-normal UFC debut salary, in addition to the allure of fighting on American television and potentially becoming a star in America.
-At his UFC debut back in February, Pete Sell made $2,000 to fight and an additional $2,000 to win. After choking out Phil Baroni in that fight, Sell's contract for his next UFC fight called for him to make $4,000 to fight and an additional $4,000 to win. Given the controversy surrounding his loss to Nate Quarry, I would expect to see Pete Sell return to the Octagon at some point, perhaps in a rematch with Quarry.
-Drew Fickett also had the "$2,000 and $2,000" deal for his UFC debut in February. After losing to Nick Diaz in that fight, Fickett was given another chance to be a successful UFC fighter with the same introductory salary, and he took full advantage of that opportunity by making quick work of Josh Neer on August 6th.
-Gideon Ray is another fighter who was brought back for another chance after losing his UFC debut, probably because he took his debut fight against David Loiseau on short notice as an injury replacement. Ray's willingness to step up on short notice was rewarded with another shot in the UFC after losing his debut fight, with a contract that called for him to make $3,000 to fight and an additional $3,000 to win. Unfortunately, Ray was unable to capitalize on that opportunity, as he was knocked out quickly by Mike Swick.
Patrick Cote's Contract
Patrick Cote's initial contract in the UFC was for $10,000 to fight and an additional $10,000 to win, which is what made it worth Cote's while to take an extremely risky fight on short notice when Guy Mezger had to pull out of the main event of UFC 50 against Tito Ortiz. Cote took the fight with Ortiz in late 2004, and was paid more than a debuting UFC fighter would normally be paid, thanks to the fact that he was willing to step up to the plate and fight an excellent fighter like Tito Ortiz on short notice.
After losing the Ortiz fight and also losing a UFC fight to Joe Doerksen, Cote's salary for this fight was cut to the new total of $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win. With the loss to Chris Leben on this show, I would now expect that Cote will have to go prove himself on smaller shows before he gets another UFC opportunity, simply because his UFC record is 0-3.
Sure, two of those fights were very competitive, and the other fight was a decision loss to a fighter who was expected to plow right through him, but 0-3 is still 0-3, so I stand by the contention that Cote needs to win a couple of fights in smaller promotions before he's brought back to the UFC.
Ivan Salaverry's Contract
Ivan Salaverry's contract for this event was for $8,000 to fight and an additional $8,000 to win. That is a big raise over his previous contract, which called for him to make $4,000 to fight and an additional $4,000 to win. If there is any fighter on Ultimate Fight Night who was severely damaged by his performance on the event, it was easily Ivan Salaverry.
The UFC's matchmaking plans were reportedly that if Salaverry beat Nathan Marquardt and did so impressively, he would have been next in line after Matt Lindland for a shot at the Middleweight Title. Instead, Salaverry not only lost, but looked uninspired and listless while doing so. The only thing worse for a fighter's marketability than being on the winning end of an extremely boring decision (as Marquardt was) is to be on the losing end of an extremely boring decision (as Salaverry was).
As a result, Salaverry has been released from his multi-fight UFC contract, which is something that often happens to UFC fighters after they lose a fight. Salaverry's release could simply be a case of the UFC wanting him to re-sign him at some point for his previous salary instead of his much bigger new salary. However, it could also be a case of the UFC actually parting ways with Salaverry until he proves himself again on smaller shows.
Ironically, it is Ivan Salaverry who stands as the biggest example of this feat being something that can be achieved. This exact same thing happened to Salaverry a few years ago, as he was previously released from his UFC contract after he lost a lopsided and rather boring decision to Matt Lindland in 2002, only to be brought back to the UFC in 2004.
The UFC remains on good terms with Ivan Salaverry personally. His release is simply a result of losing a fight the way he did, as realistically that fight makes it extremely hard for the UFC to market an Ivan Salaverry fight in the near future as any kind of featured attraction. If he had beaten Marquardt impressively, instead of losing the way he did, Ivan Salaverry would be the #2 contender for the UFC Middleweight Title right now, behind only Matt Lindland in line for a title shot.
After that performance, I believe that Ivan Salaverry should have been demoted and not allowed to be on another TV or pay-per-view fight until he was victorious in at least one or two fights on UFC undercards. Instead, he will now have to be victorious in at least one or two fights in smaller MMA promotions.
Contracts for Ultimate Fighter Season One Contestants
It was established at the April 9th live event that the base-line salary for a contestant from the Ultimate Fighter TV show would be $5,000 fight and an additional $5,000 to win. The UFC stuck with that pay scale for all of the TUF fighters who fought on this event, with the exceptions of Stephan Bonnar and Kenny Florian since they were finalists in the TUF competition.
Florian was given a contract that would pay him $6,000 to fight and an additional $6,000 to win (as opposed to the standard "$5,000 and $5,000" contract), in order to reflect the fact that he was a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter.
Stephan Bonnar was the highest-paid fighter on this show, which makes sense given the fact that he was the biggest star attraction on this card by far. Note that the salary earned by Stephan Bonnar, Forrest Griffin, or Diego Sanchez for any particular UFC fight is in addition to the "prize" that each of them earned by winning the reality show, with that prize being a three-year contract for approximately $117,000 per year (for a total of $350,000).
After their Match of the Year-level bloody stand-up brawl earlier this year, Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin are each scheduled to compete in another UFC fight that is not a rematch of the Bonnar-Griffin classic (with Griffin scheduled to face Ian Freeman and Bonnar possibly facing Elvis Sinosic). If Bonnar and Griffin emerge from those fights victorious, which is a big "if," the next logical step would be to have a Bonnar vs. Griffin rematch on pay-per-view. Given the quality of their first fight, that match has "money" written all over it provided that Zuffa puts it on pay-per-view and puts the hype machine behind it.
Why TUF Contestants Have a Higher Minimum Salary than Non-TUF Contestants
The minimum salary for Season One Ultimate Fighter contestants is actually slightly more than the minimum salary for young UFC fighters who were not on the reality show. Several non-TUF fighters on this show who were appearing in the UFC for the second time (Pete Sell, Drew Fickett, Gideon Ray) actually made less money than the TUF contestants did on this show, which can be looked at in one of two ways.
One outlook is that it's insulting for the fighters who were not on TUF. The other outlook is to look at it in a realistic business sense, which is that anyone's salary is all about negotiation, leverage, and market demand. For example, if someone like Chris Leben, who has a huge level of national television exposure, were to take his services elsewhere, his market value would be a lot more than Drew Fickett's market value. Therefore, Leben is going to draw a bigger paycheck in the UFC than Fickett. That's just simple economics. It's no different than Nathan Marquardt drawing a higher-than-normal salary for his UFC debut, simply because Pancrase is willing to pay him a lot of money.
The Ultimate Fighter Contestants Deserve Some Respect
The fighters from the Ultimate Fighter TV show should not be decried as though they're just a bunch of bums that Zuffa and Spike TV picked up off the street. Some of them had more credentials than others, but many of them were among the hottest untapped MMA talent in the country prior to the show. Of the sixteen fighters from the first season, eight of them have shown that they have the potential to have a huge future in the UFC, and most of them were making names for themselves on smaller MMA events before the TV show came along (which is how they earned the opportunity to be on TUF in the first place).
The eight fighters who appear to have big futures in MMA are Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck (who could have gone to the Olympics with his amateur wrestling credentials, but chose to pursue MMA instead), Chris Leben, Nate Quarry, Mike Swick, and Kenny Florian. Some will succeed more than others, but every name on that list has enormous potential.
It's flat-out disingenuous and even dishonest for any MMA fighter or fan to dismiss the TUF contestants as just a bunch of C-level fighters, when the fact is that every one of those eight names is a legitimate fighter who has a chance to someday be a top five fighter or even a champion in their respective weight class. You can say what you want about the other eight fighters from the first season, but that's why you have a reality show in the first place: To find out who is really the cream of the crop, and who isn't.
Where the UFC Needs to be Careful
On the other hand, the UFC needs to be careful in some areas related to the TUF fighters. In order to avoid having too many TUF fighters on UFC events, the TUF fighters who lost on this show (Sam Hoger and Alex Karalexis) should not be brought back for the forseeable future. If the UFC does decide to bring them back, it should be for the same pay that a normal UFC rookie would receive.
Fortunately, it seems as though the UFC has the same mindset about this, as none of the TUF contestants who lost on the April 9th live event have been brought back to the UFC, other than the finalists.
The UFC also needs to be careful with its wording during the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. It's not, "Eighteen fighters, and only two UFC contracts!" The reality is more like, "Eighteen fighters, and only two of them will get massive six-figure contracts, but several others may get starter-level UFC contracts." There's a way to say that without misleading people into thinking that nobody other than the two winning fighters from each season of TUF will ever fight in the UFC.
Some Perspective on the UFC Salaries
Instead of having the UFC salaries out there alone in space with no basis of comparison, it's important to look at the King of the Cage and K-1 USA salaries for some perspective.
Out of all the MMA promotions that are based in the continental United States, King of the Cage is #2 on the list, with a history dating back to 1999 and the huge asset of having national exposure on both satellite pay-per-view and the mass-market InDemand pay-per-view network that goes out to cable subscribers across America.
Nonetheless, the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel contract for a UFC fighter is still more than the highest-paid fighter at a King of the Cage event, at least in this case. The UFC minimum seems to be $2,000 to fight an additional $2,000 to win, while King of the Cage main-eventer Eric Pele was paid $2,000 to fight and an additional $1,500 to win on the show outlined above. Three-figure salaries are the norm at non-UFC events, with some fighters making as little as $400 or $500.
As for the K-1 USA salaries, they ranged from $1,500 (which is slightly less than the unofficial UFC minimum) all the way to $5,000 (which is what I think the UFC minimum should be now that Zuffa is no longer bleeding money on every event).
Proposing a New Minimum for UFC Salaries
Zuffa lost money on all-but-one UFC event in the time period of 2001, 2002, and 2003. However, that is no longer the case. The company is not losing money with every event. Given that fact, I would argue that the UFC should establish a minimum salary that they would always meet (or exceed) with every fighter: $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win. This would make a big difference to the up-and-coming fighters who are just starting out in the UFC with the minimum salary, and it would not drastically change the UFC's total fighter payroll.
If you don't believe me, it's not that difficult to prove that this would not drastically increase the UFC's total fighter payroll.
For example, if you go through the Ultimate Fight Night card and look at every fighter whose contract was for less than $5,000 to fight and an additional $5,000 to win, and you change all of those fighters' salaries to the "$5,000 and $5,000" standard (while leaving all of the other salaries unchanged), it doesn't have a huge effect on the total fighter payroll.
In the case of this event, it would have resulted in $13,000 of additional pay for fighters, increasing the total payroll from $136,000 to $149,000. That's an increase of ten percent on the total fighter payroll.
If you apply the same standard to the UFC 52 event for every fighter whose contract was for less than $5,000 and $5,000, it would have resulted in $17,500 of additional pay for fighters, increasing the total payroll from $519,500 to $537,000. That's an increase of just three percent on the total fighter payroll.
If you apply the same standard to the UFC 51 event for every fighter who didn't meet the "$5,000 and $5,000" standard, it would have resulted in $29,000 of additional pay for fighters, increasing the total payroll from $456,000 to $485,000. That's an increase of just six percent on the total fighter payroll.
If you want to look at the big picture of how this would affect Zuffa's expenses over the course of multiple events, just combine the three events. The combined fighter payroll for those three events was $1,111,500. If you increase the appropriate salaries to make sure that the absolute minimum contract is the "$5,000 and $5,000" deal, the total fighter payroll for those three events would have been $1,171,000. That is an increase of just 5.3 percent.
So, in the big picture over the course of three events, implementing the "$5,000 and $5,000" standard would only result in a 5.3 percent increase in the UFC's total fighter payroll. Sure, that's a decent chunk of change and it would add up over time, but it wouldn't put the UFC out of business, and it would be great for the up-and-coming fighters who are just getting started with their UFC careers.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fight Night Draws a 1.5 Rating, Topping NFL Pre-Season Football and X-Games
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly
The first edition of the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night drew a 1.5 overall rating on Saturday night, August 6th. This falls short of the 1.9 rating that was drawn by the April 9th live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV, but it is less of a ratings drop than might have been expected given the fact that this event had nowhere near as much hype behind it as the April 9th event.
The report floating around that the show drew a 2.8 overall rating in the final quarter-hour is false. In fact, the show's final quarter-hour drew a 2.8 rating only in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, while the overall rating for that quarter-hour was much lower.
Despite the drop-off from the first live UFC event on Spike TV, Ultimate Fight Night was still the most-watched show on cable television in all of the key ratings demographics. The show beat out NFL Pre-Season Football, the X-Games on ESPN, and everything else on cable television in the advertiser-coveted demographics of 18-to-34-year-old males and 18-to-49-year-old males.
In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the show drew a 2.0 rating, which is down from the 3.3 rating that was drawn by the April 9th broadcast in the same demographic. However, it was still the highest-rated show on cable television in that demographic, and was an increase of 400% from what Spike TV aired in the same time period in 2004 (which included an hour of WWE programming).
In the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic, the show drew a 1.8 rating, which is down from the 2.7 rating that was drawn by the April 9th broadcast in the same rating. Again, though, it was still the highest-rated show on cable television in that demographic, and it was an increase of 350% from what Spike TV aired in the same time period in 2004.
Much of the audience growth from the beginning of the show to end came in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. In that specific demographic, the show drew a 1.2 overall rating in the first quarter-hour (from 9:00 PM to 9:15 PM), and it drew a 2.8 rating in the last quarter-hour (from 11:45 PM to 12:00 AM).
In other UFC ratings news, the first episode of UFC Unleashed drew a 1.6 overall rating on Monday, July 25. The second episode of UFC Unleashed drew a 1.5 overall rating on Monday, August 1.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- The second ever MMA event to air live on free television took place this past Saturday night, as the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night debuted on Spike TV. One of the fights ended in controversy when Nate Quarry defeated Pete Sell by TKO due to the referee stopping the fight when Sell was not intelligently defending himself.
The live crowd in Las Vegas booed the finish due to the fact that 15 seconds after the fight was stopped, Pete Sell appeared to be okay and was verbally protesting the stoppage. Sell did show the restraint not to punch the referee in the face, which only elicited a three-month joke of a suspension when Phil Baroni attacked referee Larry Landless in 2003. But the crowd was angry about the Quarry-Sell stoppage, and many people on MMA message boards have also decried the stoppage as being premature.
If you want to see for yourself whether the stoppage in the Nate Quarry-Pete Sell fight was legitimate or premature, I would recommend that you go back and look at the tape. Go to the point at which they showed the instant replay from the angle where you can see Pete Sell's eyes the whole time (not the angle that switches to a reverse shot after Sell goes down). Watch carefully, and keep your focus on Sell's face and eyes.
Also, keep in mind that there is a much lower standard for stopping a fight in MMA than there is in boxing. Fighters aren't just allowed to pummel each other indefinitely in MMA, as often seems to be the case in boxing. If a fighter is out of it and is not intelligently defending himself in an MMA fight, even if it's only for a couple seconds, the fight is supposed to be stopped. It's an important policy that exists to protect the safety of the fighters, and it's a big part of the reason that MMA has such an excellent track record from a medical standpoint.
Looking at the instant replay, Nate Quarry lands a clean punch on Pete Sell, and Sell goes down in a heap. That alone doesn't warrant stopping a fight. However, in the few seconds it takes Quarry to pounce on him on the ground, Sell's face is completely blank, his eyes are rolled back in his head, and there is NO awareness that there's a man right above him who is getting ready to punch him in the face. In those seconds, there is no awareness of anything in Pete Sell's eyes.
Anytime you see a fighter with that look in his eyes, and especially when that fighter is getting pummeled with haymakers or is about to be pummeled with haymakers, you have to make a split-second decision as a ref.
Sell was grasping on for dear life by the time the ref jumped on the fighters to stop the fight, but the same can be said of the Mike Swick vs. Gideon Ray fight earlier that evening. No one would argue that the Swick-Ray fight shouldn't have been stopped, because Ray was knocked completely loopy, and the fact that he was grasping onto Swick out of instinct didn't change that fact.
The difference between the two referee stoppages, and the thing that makes one stoppage initially appear to be BS while the other seems fair, is that Pete Sell recovered pretty quickly once the punching stopped, while Gideon Ray required a full minute or two to regain his faculties.
However, that really doesn't make a difference, and that's something that we should all remember as MMA fans when we see an MMA fight get stopped by the referee. In that split second, the ref does not have the benefit of knowing how quickly the semi-conscious fighter would recover if the punches stopped. If a referee sees a fighter with his eyes rolled back in his head and a blank look on his face, and his opponent is unloading on him, the ref has to stop the fight. Period.
If, as a matter of policy, referees were to consistently let fights continue in that situation until the fighter in question is completely unconscious, just so there's no doubt in anyone's mind that there wasn't a premature stoppage, a certain percentage of those fighters would suffer serious injuries or might even die, as in boxing.
I'm not suggesting for a minute that's what would have happened to Pete Sell if the fight had been allowed to continue, since he did recover quickly once the punches stopped, and he didn't appear to have suffered a concussion. On the contrary, that is not what would have happened to Pete Sell in this particular case. However, the point remains that a referee has no way of knowing that when he makes the split-second snap judgment on whether or not to stop a fight.
So, I'm not saying that Pete Sell would have been seriously injured if the fight had been allowed to continue in this particular case. What I am saying is that the referee has to stop the fight in that situation. No fighter has ever died in a sanctioned MMA fight, and one of the big reasons for that is because MMA refs generally stop fights when they need to be stopped.
I thought the stoppage in the Quarry-Sell fight was BS at the moment it happened, but that was because I couldn't see Pete Sell's face and eyes in the original camera angle. If you look at Pete Sell's face and eyes in the instant replay and see how out of it he truly was, that changes everything.